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A Plea to Return
1 “If you will return, O Israel,
return to Me,” declares the LORD.
“If you will remove your detestable idols from My sight
and no longer waver,
2 and if you can swear, ‘As surely as the LORD lives,’
in truth, in justice, and in righteousness,
then the nations will be blessed by Him,
and in Him they will glory.”
3 For this is what the LORD says to the men of Judah and Jerusalem:
“Break up your unplowed ground,
and do not sow among the thorns.
4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD,
and remove the foreskins of your hearts,
O men of Judah and people of Jerusalem.
Otherwise, My wrath will break out like fire
and burn with no one to extinguish it,
because of your evil deeds.”
Disaster from the North
5 Announce in Judah, proclaim in Jerusalem, and say:
“Blow the ram’s horn throughout the land.
Cry aloud and say,
and let us flee to the fortified cities.’
6 Raise a signal flag toward Zion.
Seek refuge! Do not delay!
For I am bringing disaster from the north,
and terrible destruction.
7 A lion has gone up from his thicket,
and a destroyer of nations has set out.
He has left his lair
to lay waste your land.
Your cities will be reduced to ruins
and lie uninhabited.
8 So put on sackcloth,
mourn and wail,
for the fierce anger of the LORD
has not turned away from us.”
9 “In that day,” declares the LORD,
“the king and officials will lose their courage.
The priests will tremble in fear,
and the prophets will be astounded.”
10 Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD, how completely You have deceived this people and Jerusalem by saying, ‘You will have peace,’ while a sword is at our throats.”
11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, “A searing wind from the barren heights in the desert blows toward the daughter of My people, but not to winnow or to sift; 12 a wind too strong for that comes from Me. Now I also pronounce judgments against them.”
13 Behold, he advances like the clouds,
his chariots like the whirlwind.
His horses are swifter than eagles.
Woe to us, for we are ruined!
14 Wash the evil from your heart, O Jerusalem,
so that you may be saved.
How long will you harbor
wicked thoughts within you?
15 For a voice resounds from Dan,
proclaiming disaster from the hills of Ephraim.
16 Warn the nations now!
Proclaim to Jerusalem:
“A besieging army comes from a distant land;
they raise their voices against the cities of Judah.
17 They surround her like men guarding a field,
because she has rebelled against Me,” declares the LORD.
18 “Your ways and deeds
have brought this upon you.
This is your punishment; how bitter it is,
because it pierces to the heart!”
Lamentation for Judah
19 My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!
Oh, the pain in my chest!
My heart pounds within me;
I cannot be silent.
For I have heard the sound of the horn,
the alarm of battle.
20 Disaster after disaster is proclaimed,
for the whole land is laid waste.
My tents are destroyed in an instant,
my curtains in a moment.
21 How long must I see the signal flag
and hear the sound of the horn?
22 “For My people are fools;
they have not known Me.
They are foolish children,
They are skilled in doing evil,
but they know not how to do good.”
23 I looked at the earth,
and it was formless and void;
I looked to the heavens,
and they had no light.
24 I looked at the mountains,
and behold, they were quaking;
all the hills were swaying.
25 I looked, and no man was left;
all the birds of the air had fled.
26 I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert.
All its cities were torn down
before the LORD,
before His fierce anger.
27 For this is what the LORD says:
“The whole land will be desolate,
but I will not finish its destruction.
28 Therefore the earth will mourn
and the heavens above will grow dark.
I have spoken, I have planned,
and I will not relent or turn back.”
29 Every city flees
at the sound of the horseman and archer.
They enter the thickets
and climb among the rocks.
Every city is abandoned;
no inhabitant is left.
30 And you, O devastated one, what will you do,
though you dress yourself in scarlet,
though you adorn yourself with gold jewelry,
though you enlarge your eyes with paint?
You adorn yourself in vain; your lovers despise you;
they want to take your life.
31 For I hear a cry like a woman in labor,
a cry of anguish like one bearing her first child—
the cry of the Daughter of Zion gasping for breath,
stretching out her hands to say,
“Woe is me,
for my soul faints before the murderers!”